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Letter: Senate Disgrace in Albany

Senate Disgrace in Albany

There are things in life that I am proud of, some things that I am embarrassed by and others that I am ashamed of. I am proud to be an American, a New Yorker and to live in Williston Park. However, a Newsday article of Aug. 20, 2009 and an editorial of Aug. 24, 2009 highlight reasons for me, and I hope other citizens, to be ashamed. The Newsday summarized this summer’s atrocious actions of Democrat party members of our state Senate. The members who make me especially “feel shame” are Senators Hiram Monserrate (Queens) and Pedro Espada (Bronx; maybe Westchester). In clearly selfish efforts to better their positions within the Senate and the Democrat Party and, perhaps, to soften pending criminal prosecutions (assault for slashing the face of a girl friend and residency fraud and possible corruption relating to some health care not-for-profits) they returned to the Democrat Caucus which, in turn, returned majority control of the State Senate to the Democrat Party. Their earlier withdrawal from that Caucus froze Senate business for 30 days (but, every senator got paid during the freeze). It appears that as soon as the Democrat leadership “sweetened” the pot enough both Monserrate and Espada returned to the Democrat fold. For Monserrate it could be the hope that pressure from the Senate on the Queens DA will soften the criminal assault case which could cost him not only the loss of his Senate seat, but also jail time. For Espada it was giving him a leadership post, despite the fact that he was under investigation because he might not really live in Bronx County, and $500,000, from a strapped state treasury, to hire new workers and increase the state salaries of existing employees. According to Newsday, one aide got a $36,000 raise to $120,327.00. That’s not bad for a part-time job. Republican Senate members have complained about all this, but they are powerless since they are the minority party. But, there are 30 other Democrat senators and not one has come forward and denounced the recent chicanery in the Senate Chamber that they control. That silence is shameful. It would be nice if just one senator, perhaps the senator from our 7th District, Craig M. Johnson, who is regularly touted as a great friend and champion of the people of Williston Park, bravely stood up and denounced what occurred. The 7th District is solidly Democratic so Mr. Johnson would not have to fear for his next election campaign. Such a step would not alienate Democrats and such a courageous action by Mr. Johnson would certainly be seen with favor by honest thinking Independent and Republican voters. Or, it is just that the Democrat majority is so intimidating that it is able to stifle honest comment? Senator Johnson’s silence is not shameful. He is a young man with political ambition as reflected in his vote switch on the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax. That vote shift was almost immediately followed by his appointment to the MTA Advisory Board, probably with a substantial stipend. His silence is not shameful, but it is embarrassing. All I can wish for is a bold stroke by Mr. Johnson that could make us all proud of our senator.

Alan J. Reardon